Aronofsky's new film born of anger and helplessness

(From left) Director Darren Aronofsky with actresses Michelle Pfeiffer and Jennifer Lawrence, who star in mother!, at the Venice Film Festival on Tuesday.
(From left) Director Darren Aronofsky with actresses Michelle Pfeiffer and Jennifer Lawrence, who star in mother!, at the Venice Film Festival on Tuesday.PHOTO: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

VENICE • Darren Aronofsky gave birth to the script of his latest movie mother! in just five days, the American director said ahead of its world premiere on Tuesday.

It is a horror film about humanity's unstoppable destruction of Earth.

Known for Black Swan (2010) and The Wrestler (2008), he told reporters at the Venice Film Festival that most of his movies had taken years to create, but this was different.

He was inspired by what he saw around him and his inability to do much about it, from the United States pulling out of the Paris climate deal and an iceberg melting in the Arctic to people starving while others live in opulence.

"I just had a lot of rage and anger, and I just wanted to channel it into one emotion, one feeling.

"And in five days, I wrote the first version of the script. It just sort of poured out of me."

The result is an apocalyptic metaphor, rich in religious, environmental and political undertones.

Jennifer Lawrence plays a young wife who lives with her poet husband (Javier Bardem) in a secluded country house.

While he is trying to overcome a serious bout of writer's block, she is busy restoring his family home.

Their seemingly idyllic existence starts falling apart when unexpected guests - starting with Ed Harris and Michelle Pfeiffer - arrive at their doorstep.

Lawrence, whose roles are usually tied to strong female leads, is thrust into portraying someone living to make her husband happy and asked to give more and more until she cannot do it any more.

"It was a completely different character from anything I've ever done before, but it was also a completely different side of myself that I wasn't in touch with, didn't really know yet," said the 27-year-old Best Actress Oscar winner for Silver Linings Playbook in 2013.

The two-hour mother! is set in a villa surrounded by fields of grass.

Aronofsky said he wanted to build on the idea that while people may ignore what is happening elsewhere in the world, they can identify with the discomfort of someone invading their home and privacy.

Inspired by Luis Bunuel's surrealist film The Exterminating Angel (1962), he wanted to stick social structure into one home and watch it while it "becomes undone by humanity".

This movie is about "how people are insatiable. There is this endless consumption", Aronofsky noted.

The working title for the film was Day 6, referring to the day God created mankind.

The house was painted in natural browns and greens to resemble earth, but "slowly as humanity invades, they start to bring in all the different types of colours and materials that are not natural to the planet", the director said.

The movie received mixed reactions in Venice and was booed after its first screening, but he remained undeterred.

"It's a very, very strong cocktail," he said. "This a roller-coaster ride, only come on it if you're really prepared to do the loop-the-loop a few times."


•mother! opens in Singapore on Sept 14.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 07, 2017, with the headline 'Aronofsky's new film born of anger and helplessness'. Subscribe